Our excitement about 3D printing accelerated when researchers at MIT made a breakthrough by printing transparent glass in 3D. Thanks to the team of researchers led by Neri Oxman, an associate professor at MIT, and Peter Houk, director at the MIT Glass Lab, we can now expect to see some cool glass objects printed in 3D very soon.
The researchers removed a major obstacle in the way of printing transparent glass objects in 3-D: the tremendously high heat required to liquefy the material. Can we now safely assume the innovation and development in 3D glass printing could outpace our expectations? There are some good reasons to say yes.
The good news is that the breakthrough made by the MIT team has now led the Virginia Tech and Rhode Island School of Design to collaborate for innovation and development in 3D printing of glass objects. They aim to take it to an advance level, and I have faith in their plan. The system for 3D printing of glass objects needs extensive tweaks before they could go mainstream, and I personally expect improvements in this area as well.
The important question remains: Does the breakthrough in 3D glass printing mean that we would see more vase-like objects in the future? No, there is a bigger goal researchers aim to achieve with 3D glass printing. Think about architect Mies van der Rohe’s idea for a Berlin skyscraper that would look like a metal frame enclosed in glass. Mies envisioned it in the 1920s. We can now expect his dream of skin-and-bone architecture to come true sooner or later.
Want to see a range of pot-like glass objects already printed by the MIT team? Keep eye on news from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum where the objects will be put on display in 2016.